Who Will Run Murdoch's Grand Newspaper Spinoff? 

Agenda-Setting Financial Insight.
Sept. 25 2012 5:11 PM

Who Will Run Murdoch's Grand Newspaper Spinoff? 

Murdoch needs to get cracking on getting News Corp out of the newspaper racket.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With a key British regulatory judgment concerning News Corp’s satellite broadcaster BSkyB cleared last week, Rupert Murdoch can focus on cleaving his newspaper empire. Critically for investors, that means it’s time to pick a leader. Wall Street Journal boss Robert Thomson appears in pole position, though his appointment would spark an editorial chain reaction of its own. 

Whoever runs Spinco (the least-disparaging name used by its future employees) will have one of the hardest jobs in media. The Times of London hasn’t covered its costs for decades. The New York Post is a perennial cash sinkhole. Inside a vast conglomerate, the profitability, or lack thereof, of some papers was relatively inconsequential. To attract investors to a standalone print business, the red ink can’t flow so freely. In its last fiscal year, the publishing arm saw operating income drop 31 percent. 

A chief executive with demonstrable news business nous might have the credibility to hack away at costs. That probably explains why the name of Murdoch confidant Thomson is making the rounds in New York and London media circles. 

Thomson’s experience reshaping the financial broadsheet Murdoch overpaid to acquire four years ago, plus six years as editor of The Times, give him unmatched understanding of the assets and a gravitas with staff that no other News Corp executive exhibits. While Tom Mockridge has led News International since Rebekah Brooks left last year, he hasn’t worked at the Journal, which presents the most promising global opportunity for the separated company. 

That’s especially important in the face of potentially renewed competition from the New York Times, where Mark Thompson, the former BBC director general with extensive battle scarring from tangling with Murdoch, has arrived as the new president and CEO. 

As chief of a newly public company, of course, Thomson would need to relinquish editorial duties, kicking off a game of journalistic musical chairs. The guessing over who will lead the Journal is already in full swing internally, with editors Gerry Baker and Alan Murray seen as potential candidates. Wrenching changes at the Times might also lead to changes there. 

For now, this may just be pub gossip for journalists. But for the spinoff of the newspaper arm to proceed as planned, it will need a chief relatively soon. Now certified “fit and proper” to run BSkyB, Murdoch needs to get cracking on getting News Corp out of the newspaper racket. 

Read more at Reuters Breakingviews.

Rob Cox helped establish breakingviews in 2000 in London. From 2004 he spearheaded the firm's expansion in the U.S. and edited its American edition, including the daily breakingviews column in the New York Times. Prior to joining breakingviews, Rob held senior editorial positions at Bloomberg News in London, Milan, and New York.


The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 


How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.


A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Sept. 12 2014 7:24 PM Come and Take It Libertarians fight for people whose property was seized by the police.
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
Sept. 12 2014 3:32 PM Yes, Those Straight Guys Who Wed for Rugby Tickets Are Mocking Marriage. What’s New?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
Brow Beat
Sept. 14 2014 7:10 PM Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His Voice
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?